July 2, 2022

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Sheep Fire at 90% containment

The Sheep Fire broke out Saturday not far from the town of Wrightwood near the Pacific Crest Trail in the San Gabriel Mountains. The blaze flared up Sunday and by evening had chewed through at least 990 acres by Sunday, officials said. By Thursday, 90% of the fire was contained.

Update 6 p.m. Thursday: Fire officials ‘express no major concerns’ as Sheep Fire nears total containment

Firefighters on Thursday continued mopping up the Sheep Fire near Wrightwood, which was at 865 acres, with 90% containment, Cal Fire reported late Thursday afternoon.

Fire agencies feel confident that crews will achieve further containment of the fire with the current resources at hand.

Overall, fire managers express no major concerns for the Sheep Fire, and fire crews will remain vigilant for interior heat within the fire perimeter.

Update 8:55 a.m. Thursday: Mop-up efforts continue on Sheep Fire

Firefighters continue to increase containment of the Sheep Fire as they work to place more hand lines around the perimeter of the fire, according to Cal Fire.

On Wednesday, hotshot crews alongside helicopter water drops were able to extinguish a few hotspots near the south end of the fire. While infrared flights continue to show scattered heat and interior heat within the fire perimeter, some remaining interior heat islands are expected to burn out. Night operation crews into Thursday morning will continue to locate hotspots and monitor fire behavior to protect nearby communities.

On Wednesday, CalTrans reopened the portion of Highway 2 that was closed between Wright Mountain Road to Desert Front Road. Fire crews and cooperators will continue to work near the roadway, so authorities ask drivers to use caution when driving through the area. All evacuation orders and warnings for the communities of Wrightwood and Desert Front have been lifted.

Update 10:10 a.m. Wednesday: Sheep Fire reaches 85% containment

Days after the Sheep Fire massive fire broke out in the Angeles National Forest near Wrightwood residents under evacuation orders were finally able to return home Wednesday as Cal Fire announced 85% of the nearly 1,000-acre was contained.

Crews from Cal Fire San Bernardino County Fire Department and Angeles National Forest combined forces to fight the blaze.

No structures have been damaged, though several power lines and one cell tower were damaged.

Highway 2 will remain closed from Wright Mountain Road to Desert Front Road while CalTrans and Southern California Edison repair infrastructure along Highway 2 in the fire area.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Update 8:20 p.m. Tuesday: Evacuation orders lifted

The evacuation warnings and orders for the Sheep Fire were lifted on Tuesday night, according to San Bernardino County Fire officials.

9:30 p.m. Monday: Firefighters continue to make progress on Sheep Fire

Firefighters had success Monday working on containment lines, mop-up, and perimeter control in the Sheep Fire, San Bernardino County Fire Department reported

More favorable wind conditions allowed airplanes and helicopters to fight the fire from the air, the department reported.

On the ground, more than 300 firefighters were successful in increasing containment to 27%. Crews will continue to work through the night to increase containment and work hot spots.

The community of Phelan on Desert Front Road and Wildhorse Canyon are both still under mandatory evacuation orders. The community of Wrightwood continues to be on an evacuation warning.

Several evacuation orders and warnings took place in the area to the east and northeast of the town of Wrightwood on Sunday, June 12. For specific evacuation orders and warnings, follow the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Twitter site: @sbcountysheriff.

4:15 p.m. Monday: Fire containment grows

San Bernardino County Fire Department reported the containment of the Sheep Fire has grown from 5% to 18% over Monday.

“Good progress overnight on containment lines, mop-up & hot spots. Cooler temperatures & favorable wind conditions allowing ground/air resources to make great progress,” the department tweeted late Monday afternoon.

There are now 673 firefighters, including personnel from the Angeles National Forest, San Bernardino County Fire, CAL FIRE, and the Bureau of Land Management, battling the blaze.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, said the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

1:50 p.m. Monday: Fire growth slows

The Sheep Fire grew from 35 acres Sunday morning to nearly 1,000 acres by the evening, but by Monday afternoon San Bernardino County Fire Department estimates the Sheep Fire has stabilized to about 939 acres and is 5% contained.

There are a total of 673 firefighters on this incident, including personnel from the Angeles National Forest, San Bernardino County Fire, CAL FIRE, and the Bureau of Land Management.

Approximately 300 people have been evacuated from near the fire area, San Bernardino County Fire report. No structures have been burned.

9:25 a.m. Monday: ‘Critical concerns’

 A trough of low pressure that has brought significant wind gusts to southland is expected to continue Monday and into Tuesday, National Weather Service meteorologist Adam Roser said.

Gusts near 20 to 25 mph are expected in Wrightwood throughout Monday as fire personnel continues to battle the Sheep Fire, which has grown near 1,000 acres.

The wind gusts, coupled with humidity down to about 25% translates to “elevated to near critical fire concerns,” according to Roser.

The fire, originally reported at under an acre Saturday night, spread to 990 acres by Sunday night, in large part to heavy wind gusts.

According to an NWS report, in the San Bernardino Mountains on Sunday, gusts of 45 mph were recorded at the Cajon Junction and Cajon Summit. The highest gust recorded in Wrightwood came in at 37 mph.

Roser said the gusts are part of the trough of low pressure that has hit the West Coast, which is also bringing slightly cooler temperatures.

“The system is over us now so (Monday) will be the coolest day of the week,” Roser said. “We will warm back up Tuesday through Thursday.”

Monday’s high in Wrightwood is expected at 73 degrees, while the low will dip to 51.

As the trough tails off, Tuesday’s high there is expected at 76, with gusts around 15 mph.

Update 6 a.m. Monday

 Mandatory evacuations are in place after a wildfire exploded Sunday in the San Gabriel Mountains.

The Sheep Fire grew from 35 acres Sunday morning to nearly 1,000 acres by the evening, according to InciWeb. The fire is only 5% contained.

“Fighting this fire has been especially challenging due to dense vegetation, steep terrain, and high and erratic winds,” the latest fire update said.

Fire fighting officials estimate the fire will likely burn until at least June 14. About 200 firefighters are working to put out the fire. The cause remains under investigation.

Evacuation orders were issued from Hwy. 2 south to Lone Pine Canyon Road, and Wright Mountain Road to Sheep Creek Drive and Desert Front Road and Wild Horse Canyon. Parts of the community of Wrightwood are also under evacuation orders, SBC Fire officials said.

Red Cross volunteers are manning an evacuation center at Serrano High School located at 9292 Sheep Creek Drive in Phelan.  For more information, call 909-327-3131.

An evacuation center for small animals and livestock has been established at the Devore Animal Shelter, 19777 Shelter Way, San Bernardino. Residents are advised to contact County Animal Care and Control in advance at 1-800-472-5609 for evacuation assistance.

The San Bernardino County Fairgrounds (Victorville) will house large animals. Residents need to call 800-472-5609 for assistance prior to arrival.

The Wrightwood area, with about 4,500 residents is in a forested area of the San Gabriel Mountains on Highway 2 a few miles west of the 138 Freeway,  has been affected by fires before. In 2020, the Bobcat fire burned 115,796 acres and led to evacuation warnings for Piñon Hills and Wrightwood. That fire destroyed 27 residences.

Update 9:30 p.m Sunday

The Sheep Fire is now estimated at 990 acres in size and is 5% contained. The fire is being co-managed by unified command: Angeles National Forest, San Bernardino County Fire, and CAL Fire.

Fire fighting officials estimate the fire will likely burn until at least June 14.

Fighting this fire has been especially challenging due to dense vegetation, steep terrain, and high and erratic winds,  San Bernardino County Fire said. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Update 8:20 p.m Sunday

New evacuation orders issued from Hwy. 2 south to Lone Pine Canyon Road, and Wright Mountain Road to Sheep Creek Drive. Existing mandatory evacuation orders remain in place for Desert Front Road and Wild Horse Canyon.The  community of Wrightwood is also under an evacuation warning, SBC Fire officials said.

Nathan Johnston of Disaster Animal Rescue Team and Ashley Cockroft move sheep to safety at Serrano High School in Phelan CA on June 12, 2022. Serrano was the evacuation center for those escaping the Sheep Fire in Wrightwood.

Update 7:15 p.m. Sunday

A mandatory evacuation order has been issued for all of Wrightwood. Also, from Highway 2 to Mesquite Street, from Hwy. 138 to Sand Canyon and from Wright Mountain Road to Lone Pine Canyon Road.

The Wrightwood area, with about 4,500 residents is in a forested area of the San Gabriel Mountains on Highway 2 a few miles west of the 138 Freeway,  has been affected by fires before. In 2020, the Bobcat fire burned 115,796 acres and led to evacuation warnings for Piñon Hills and Wrightwood. That fire destroyed 27 residences.

The Sheep Fire broke out Saturday evening in the San Gabriel Mountains.  Nearby Wrightwood is under mandatory evacuation orders.

The Sheep Fire broke out Saturday evening in the San Gabriel Mountains. Nearby Wrightwood is under mandatory evacuation orders.

Red Cross volunteers are manning an evacuation center at Serrano High School located at 9292 Sheep Creek Drive in Phelan.  For more information, call 909-327-3131.

A reported cell phone and internet outage has prompted first responders to go door-to-door telling residents to evacuate, SBC Fire officials reported.

The Sheep Fire broke out Saturday evening in the San Gabriel Mountains.  Nearby Wrightwood is under mandatory evacuation orders.

The Sheep Fire broke out Saturday evening in the San Gabriel Mountains. Nearby Wrightwood is under mandatory evacuation orders.

About 200 firefighters are working to put out the fire. The cause remains under investigation.

Heavy winds up to 40 mph in the mountains could lead the fire to grow even more,  said Mark Moede, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Adding to concern: Hot, dry conditions are expected over the next four days when temperatures will be in the mid to high 90 F, the NWS said.

Update 5:45 p.m. Sunday

The San Bernardino County Fire Department is reporting the San Bernardino County Animal Care & Control is accepting small animals and livestock at the Devore Animal Shelter, 19777 Shelter Way, San Bernardino, for people affected by the Sheep Fire.

Update 4:07 p.m. Sunday

As of 4 p.m., State Route 2 remains closed from 2.8 miles east of the Los Angeles/San Bernardino county line at Wright Mountain Road to the junction of State Route 138 because of the wildfire. Motorists are advised to use an alternate route.

The San Bernardino County Sheriffs’ Office has issued mandatory evacuations for Wrightwood residents near Highway 2 to Mesquite Street, from Highway 138 through Sand Canyon. In addition, residents living between Wright Road to Lone Pine are under an evacuation warning.

Update 3:57 p.m. Sunday: The Sheep Fire has grown to 150 acres and is 5% contained. It is burning toward Desert Front Road. Law enforcement is going door-to-door with a mandatory evacuation for Desert Front Road and Wild Horse Canyon. The remaining area of Wrightwood is under an evacuation warning. There is a road closure from Hwy 138 to Lone Pine (Highway 2).

There is an evacuation center at Serrano High School, and the Red Cross is on the scene. Serrano High School is at 9292 Sheep Creek Road in Phelan.

Original story 2:58 p.m. Sunday

A fire that broke out Saturday evening in the San Gabriel Mountains was still growing and largely uncontained nearly a day later as firefighters described the blaze as moving away from nearby Wrightwood but closer to the High Desert.

The last updated count as of about 2:40 p.m. Sunday pinned the fire at about 45 acres, according to San Bernardino County Fire Battalion Chief Mike McClintock, though it may have grown to a larger size since that estimate was made nearly two hours earlier.

Officials issued an evacuation order Sunday afternoon for residents of the Desert Front neighborhood, just north of Wrightwood, according to McClintock. No evacuations had been ordered as of about 1 p.m., a worrying sign of the momentum of the wildfire.

“We’ve had increased activity on the eastern portion of the fire,” McClintock told the Daily Press. “The fire’s moving in a northerly direction.”

Smoke from the Sheep Fire in the Wrightwood area can be seen from Oak Hills on Sunday, June 12, 2022.

Smoke from the Sheep Fire in the Wrightwood area can be seen from Oak Hills on Sunday, June 12, 2022.

The so-called Sheep Fire’s existence was initially reported by San Bernardino County to Angeles National Forest shortly after 6:30 p.m. Saturday, when it stood at around a quarter-acre in size, according to the official InciWeb page for the fire.

Within two hours, it had grown to about 30 acres. Shortly after 10 p.m., officials reported that the fire had grown to 35 acres and was “burning in heavy fuels/vegetation” as it remained 0% contained.

That prompted various measures from the unified-command team of San Bernardino County Fire, CalFire and Angeles National Forest, including night-flying operations and the deployment of around 200 firefighters to the inferno about one mile east of the nearest structures in Wrightwood.

Early in the fire response, officials also closed a stretch of State Route 2, from its intersection with State Route 138 to the area of Wright Mountain Road. The closures remained in place as of about 2:30 p.m. Sunday, according to Caltrans website.

The overnight response gained only 5% containment of the blaze as it continued spreading on its second day.

County Fire posted an update on its Twitter page around 1:20 p.m. Sunday, stating that the fire had grown to about 45 acres and re-entered unified command with the state and National Forest agencies.

No evacuations had been imposed in connection to the fire as of that update, but huge plumes of smoke stemming from the fire could be seen from dozens of miles away midday Sunday, moving northbound. The unincorporated High Desert communities of Phelan and Pinon Hills sit a short drive north of Wrightwood.

Fire officials couldn’t immediately be reached for updates on the fire and its potential to affect High Desert residents via wind-dependent factors such as the spread of smoke.

Charlie McGee covers California’s High Desert for the Daily Press, focusing on the city of Barstow and its surrounding communities. He is also a Report for America corps member with The GroundTruth Project, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization dedicated to supporting the next generation of journalists in the U.S. and worldwide. McGee may be reached at 760-955-5341 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @bycharliemcgee.

This article originally appeared on Victorville Daily Press: Update: Sheep Fire at 90% containment